Love for the three Oranges at Old Stage – synopsis
Composer and librettist
Music: Sergej Prokofjev|Lyrics: Prokofjev after Carlo Gozzi.
First performance in Chicago Opera House den 30 september 1921.
The Love for Three Oranges is a fabulous fairytale. Before the curain rises the members of the stage audience have a tremendous quarrel about what they want to see: should it be a tragedy or a comedy, a farce or something quite different? “The ridiculois” appear, interrupt the row, and announce that the play has already been chosen The three Oranges.
Now we meet the King who is grieved by his son’s depression which no doctor can cure. Everyone believes that if he could only laugh he would be well.Pantalone suggest that the court yester Truffaldino should be fetched – he usually makes everybody laugh. The King orders’yhe Prime Minister Leander to prepare a grand ball and a masquerade, but Leander advises against it. He is an accomplice of Princess Clarice, who is going to inherit the throne if the Prince dies. Anyway, the King decides to follow the advise of Pantalone.
In another place the King’s magician Celio meets with the sorceress Fata Morgana,in accomplice of Clarice. They play cards Fata Morgana wins, and thereby has the life of the Prince in her hands.
Clarice and Leander want to get married when the Prince is dead, and they plan to poison him. Leander believes that his appalling “Martellian-verses” will finish hlim off. Meanwhile Truffaldino prepares a great ball, which worries the conspirators a great deal, but Fata Morgana’s slave Smeraldina, tells them that Fata Morgana will appear at the ball herself to prevent Trufaldino making the Prince laugh.
Truffaldino brings the Prince to the palace which Leander has made look as bleak as possible. Fata Morgana arrives to scare the Prince but Truffaldino but Truffaldino knocks her over with her legs in the air – a sight so funny that the Prince burst out laughing. Fata Morgona gets up and hurls a curse: the Prince shall fall in love with with three oranges and risk his life searching for them. She diseappers and the Prince makes himself ready for his expedition. The King and Pantalone try to prevent the dangerous undertaking, but the devil Farfarello enters with his bellows and blows the Prince and Truffaldino out on a long journey to the palace of the giant sorceress Creonta, where the oranges are.
The wizard Celio conjures up Farfarello in order to make him stop his blowing. But Farfarello refuses because Celio has lost his card game against Fata Morgana. The next moment the Prince and Truffaldino are blown onto stage. In vain Celio varns them not to travel on but then tells them hw to enter the palace of Creonta.
Once inside they succeed in luring the oranges from the giant cook and escape with their loot.
In the desert the oranges grow very big and their juice is tempting to Truffaldino.However, the oranges must only be opened near water, according to Cello’s warning. Despite this, while the Prince is sleeping.Truffaldino opens one and out comes a Princess who immediately expires from thirst, as there is no water in the neighbourhood. Truffaldino opens another orange and the same thing happens. Whwn the Prince wakes up he sees the to dead Princesses. He now opens the last orange and out steps Princess Ninetta. At once the Prince falls in love with her, but she too faints with thirst and the Prince despairs. However, the stage audience intervene and produce a paill of water so that the Princess is saved and the Prince vows to marry her. Ninettas left behind outside the city while the Prince goes in to fetch her some proper clothing. Meanwhile Smeraldina appears and, under orders from Fata Morgana,transforms Ninetta into a rat which immediately disappears, while Smeraldina takes her place. When the Prince returns he at once recognises that she is not his beloved Ninetta and furiously refuses to marry her. The King is shocked by his behaviour and insists he must marry the false Princess.
Somewhere outside the palace a guarrel takes place between Celio and Fata Morgana, until the stage audience loses patience and decides to lock her up.In the throne room a big rat is sitting on the Princess’s seat and the king gives order to shoot it. But suddenly the rat is transformed into Princess Ninetta, who tells her story. Clarice, Leander and Smeraldina are condemned to death and together with Fata Morgana they disappear into the ground. And so everything comes to a happy end.